Centaurea melitensis L.

Malta Thistle

Sp. Pl. 917 (1753) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Erect annual to 1 m high; stems winged in upper parts. Basal leaves short-lived, petiolate, lanceolate, to 14 cm long and 6 cm wide, pinnatifid, lyrate, pubescent to scabrous; cauline leaves with decurrent bases, lanceolate, 1–7 cm long, 2–9 mm wide, entire or toothed, pubescent with scabrous margins and midrib. Capitula solitary or in groups of 2 or 3, ovoid, 8–12 mm diam.; involucre 9–12 mm long; intermediate bracts lanceolate, cobwebbed, with a terminal appendage of a straight spine 6–9 mm long and 1–3 pairs of smaller lateral spines; inner bracts with a scarious, often spine-tipped apex. Corolla 10–15 mm long, yellow. Cypselas 2–3 mm long, greyish, slightly ribbed, pubescent; pappus of unequal bristles c. 2 mm long, shorter than cypsela. Flowers mainly spring and summer.

*CVU, *EGL, *EGU, *GipP, *Glep, *Gold, *GGr, *HNF, *HSF, *LoM, *MuF, *MuM, *MSB, *NIS, *OtP, *RobP, *VRiv, *VVP, *WaP, *WPro, *Wim. Also naturalised WA, NT, SA, Qld, NSW, Tas. Native to Europe. A widespread and frequent weed through usually drier parts of State, occurring in rough pasture, roadsides and wasteland.

A collection from Wail in western Victoria is aberrant in having large capitula (c. 15 mm diam., involucres c. 20 mm long), and in this respect approaches the closely related Centaurea eriophora L. which has been recorded in South Australia. However, the cypselas are typical of C. melitensis rather than C. eriphora, which has glabrous cypselas 4–5 mm long.

Source: Jeanes, J.A. (1999). Asteraceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 4, Cornaceae to Asteraceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2019-07-23
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Asteranae
order Asterales
family Asteraceae
genus Centaurea
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <http://avh.chah.org.au>. Find Centaurea melitensis in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Centaurea melitensis in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Lowan Mallee present naturalised
Murray Mallee present naturalised
Wimmera present naturalised
Glenelg Plain present naturalised
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Victorian Riverina present naturalised
Murray Scroll Belt present naturalised
Robinvale Plains present naturalised
Murray Fans present naturalised
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Otway Plain present naturalised
Warrnambool Plain present naturalised
Goldfields present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present naturalised
Greater Grampians present naturalised
Northern Inland Slopes present naturalised
East Gippsland Lowlands present introduced
East Gippsland Uplands present naturalised
Wilsons Promontory present introduced
Highlands-Southern Fall present naturalised
Highlands-Northern Fall present naturalised

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
Northern Territory
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory